Kylee Shook a key player for Louisville women against UConn

Kylee Shook will play a decisive role in the fortunes of University of Louisville women’s basketball (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

The time is arriving soon for Kylee Shook, the sooner the better, for her to raise her game to another level, become a dominant player.

The ideal time for Shook to flourish would be in the game everyone has been waiting for, the University of Louisville vs. UConn on Thursday at the KFC Yum! Center. UConn second, UofL third in women’s college basketball in the latest Associated Press poll.

Not that Shook isn’t having a decent season, she is, averaging 8.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-4 junior has a 50.2% field goal shooting percentage (59 of 117) and 35.7% from behind the 3-point line (10 or 28). She also has an amazing 27 blocks to go with 14 assists and 13 steals this season.

Earlier in the season, Kylee seemed at times reluctant to mix it up beneath the basket in a game that has become increasingly physical. Kylee has quietly had two double-doubles this year, including 10 points and 11 rebounds against a good North Carolina team and 15 points and 14 rebounds against Northern Kentucky.  

Her most impressive performance may have come two games ago. In a 68-49 win at Florida State, she had eight points, nine rebounds and five blocks in 27 minutes

Nice statistics for a player coming off the bench, but one still can help but believe she is capable of more on a consistent basis. Or maybe one is thinking ahead to next season when, as a senior, she will inevitably become a starter, thrust into a leadership role and will need to become indispensable.

The best time for Shook to take it to the next level would be Thursday.  UofL needs Kylee at her best to have a chance of ending that 17-game losing streak against UConn.  

Bench leads way, Louisville women crush Murray State

Asia Durr leads this Louisville fast break but spent most of her time watching the reserves while racking up an all-time program record of 115 points against Murray State (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

A record that will stand for a while.

Bionca Dunham goes high over Murray State’s Brianna Crane for one her 16 rebounds (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Things are going right for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team when the reserves outscore the starters. The bench putting up 76 points to only 39 for the starting unit.

The end result was a 115-51 win over Murray State on Friday, a new record for the program before a crowd of 6,881 at the KFC Yum! Center, improving the Cardinals’ record to 5-0.

Some different names among the point leaders, including Kylee Shook with 21 points,  Sydney Zambrotta with 16, and Dana Evans with 14. But the dominating force was still another reserve, Bionca Dunham, turning in her first double-double with 19 points and 16 rebounds.

”Four of our five in double figures come off the bench, and that’s important because we have to have that depth and balance,” said Coach Jeff Walz.

Sam Fuehring, the only starter in double figures, scored the first four points to give a UofL a lead it would never relinquish. She would wind up with 12 points. Myisha Hines-Allen and Jazmine Jones had 8 points, Asia Durr had 7, and Arica Carter had 4.

The bench making it look easy.

Kylee Shook breaking loose for a personal high of 21 points to lead all scorers (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Kylee Shook gets message, UofL women skate past Boston College

Apparently when Jeff Walz sends a message to a University of Louisville player, he wants to make sure the individual has time to consider the desired result. Just ask Kylee Shook who was benched quickly in the second half against Virginia Tech on Thursday.

Kylee Shook attacks the basket for two of her game-leading 14 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

So surprised when she had a wide open path to the basket, Kylee did an awkward ball fake, was called for traveling, and summoned to the bench. Done for the night, having to think about it the rest of the night and over the next three days.

Imagine her relief, then, when Walz tapped Shook as the starting forward the following Sunday. The coach appealing to her competitive edge, hoping she would react in a positive way, needing her to be a leader.

Shook would do just that, the young 6-foot-4 freshman responding with one of the best games in her career in a 68-43 win over Boston College before 9,306 fans at the KFC Yum! Center. She would make six of 10 field goal attempts, including two of three 3-point shots, to lead all scorers with 14 points while pulling down five rebounds. 

No mishaps in this one, either, Shook with zero turnovers in 20 minutes of playing time. 

Before one gets carried away, however, it should be noted that Shook may have gotten the starting opportunity because Asia Durr, UofL’s leading scorer, was the one on the bench in this game.

All game long, with no explanation except for a “coach’s decision.” Nobody close to the team knowing anything, saying nothing, not even her. As Durr was leaving the floor, an elderly woman called out to her, “Hey, Asia, what did you do?”

“It’s okay,” replied Asia. “I’ll be back next game.”

Also of note, Mariya Moore did not return for the second half after making three turnovers and missing all six of her field goal attempts in the first 20 minutes.

More messaging? Or was it because she wasn’t needed? Myisha Hines-Allen, who had 10 points and 13 rebounds, saw only eight minutes in the second half. Regardless, they will have all week to think about it, UofL not playing until next Sunday when North Carolina arrives for a Noon tipoff. 

A long week ahead, plenty of time to let any object lessons sink in.